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Mini or standalone streamer


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Hi everyone. I'm pretty new to the site and I've been trying to read up as much as I could before posting but I still have some questions and I'd appreciate any help you guys can offer. I'm trying to choose a streamer/player for my living room and I've narrowed my choices to either a mac mini or one of the standalone streamers, but I'm still a little unsure about the ability to playback high resolution files.

 

Will a mac mini be able to play 24/96 and 24/192 from its usb port or firewire port? If only from firewire can anyone suggest a firewire dac priced less than 1500(can be used)? I'll probably use a PSAudio DL3 if usb can pass high rez music. Also, concerning software, I'm most familiar with itunes and front row. Are there any limitations with either of these playing back high rez music?

 

As for the streamers, this is where I kinda get lost. I thoguht the apple tv was a nice choice but I read in one of the other threads that while it will play high rez music but downsample it to 16/44.1. I'm wondering if most of the lower priced streamers and network media tanks will do the same and I'm leaning towards yes. The only players that I'm sure will play high rez music are the Logitech Transporter and the PSAudio Perfect Wave DAC(not even out yet and kinda outside my price range anyway). If anyone knows of some others that will fit the bill please let me know.

 

My apologies for the tons of questions but after reading so much I'm still a little lost. Again, I'd appreciate any help offered.

 

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Hi. Hope I can provide some answers ...

 

24/192 can be done by USB as well as FireWire though most "domestic" audio manufacturers DACs are limited to 16 or 24/48 and most studio equipment limited to 24/96. The PS Audio you meantioned is limited to 24/48 I believe. The MacMini CAN however do 24/96 via it's optical SPDIF connector into a suitable DAC and will do 24/192 but only under Windows using BootCamp strangely.

 

Using a streamer device most are limited to 16 or 24/48 except the Transporter and also Linn devices - both limited to 24/96 iirc. I'm sure other high res. devices exist that I'm unaware of. I guess you could count Naim HDX though that is both a standalone "server" as well as streamer device. Not sure isthe NaimUniti supports files higher than CD quality but that's an integrated system so maybe not relevant to you.

 

To sum: USB is generally 24/48 or (less often) 24/96; FireWire has more common support for 24/192 (FireFace 400 and others); MacMini SPDIF can manage 24/96 in MacOSX or 24/192 in Windows (I expect a MacOS update will support 24/192 soon).

 

Chris: have you considered a section with specs for devices. Not recomendation from full review but just listing capabilites - maybe allowing "user" comments and reviews? Maybe just a new "forum" section people could list a devices capability in an agreed format? I.e.

Device Manufacturer / Name: Bryston BDA1

Device Type: DAC

Interfaces: USB / AES/EBU / 4x Coax / 2x Optical

Capabilities: upto 24/192

Limitations: USB limited to 24/48

If possible some gem of search engine would be useful too.

(Sorry carried away a little there and off topic)

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Audio_ELF, thank you for your help. Gives me some answers and makes my choices a little more clear. I wanted to stay away from using toslink because of the jitter associated with that connector so if I would use a mini it would have to be with its firewire interface, but the only firewire dacs I'm aware of are the Weiss dacs and they're outside my price range so I've got some searching to do. A transporter seems like the simplest choice the more I think about it but I just don't care for the squeeze center interface.

 

Thanks again for the info.

 

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There are other options between a bare MacMini's optical connection and the Weiss.

 

Some possibilities I'm aware and there are a LOT of others - especially check out 'pro' audio / studio equipment manufacturers.

 

M-Audio transit USB to SPDIF at around £80 (prices from memory not checked) supports upto 24/96.

BelCanto USB link to SPDIF at upto 24/96 ($170)

RME Fireface 400 - Firewire DAC and ADC with SPDIF supporting 24/192 (£600)

Wavelength Audio USB DACs including Proton supporting 24/96 via USB (unsure of cost but manufacturer posts in forums)

Ayre QB-9 USB DAC supporting at least 24/96 due to be launched soon.

MacPro (rather than Mini) with Lynx AES16e card is another option into a stand alone DAC.

 

I could carry on listing options. As you see there are lots of possibilites outside the well known HiFi manuacturers for High Res audio. You can always start with USB and/or Optical into a PS Dac III and late add an interface - probably a cheeper path than the Logitech Transporter.

 

Hope something here helps you.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Eloise, thanks a bunch for the reply. I honestly had no idea that the choices were so plentiful. The Wavelength products looked fantastic until I saw the price(ouch!), but the Brick and Proton are within reach and the RME Fireface looks like a great choice(Chris seems to be checking out the Proton right now).

 

Also, I have a Mac Pro but my significant other would not be pleased if I placed a desktop tower next to our entertainment center and I'm exploring the standalone streamer and mini as possibilities because of their small footprints.

 

Thanks again for the list of possibilities. Most of all, it shows me that I need to keep looking as I have obviously not looked at all the possibilities. Thanks again.

 

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